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August in Review: Exploring Massachusetts on Bike and My Birthday!

Martha's Vineyard
Boats at Sunset on Martha’s Vineyard

August was certainly a month of embracing summer and spending as much time as possible soaking in the sun.  I managed to check off a number of items from my Boston bucket list and experience new parts of the city and the state on bike.

Martha’s Vineyard

I received an unexpected invitation to Martha’s Vineyard in early August.  I hadn’t been to the island since I was a child and remembered very little about it.  As it turns out, you have to take a ferry to get there, and the best way to get around is on bike!  It was liberating to leave my car behind on the Cape, throw everything into my backpack, and spend the weekend pedaling around!

Seagull Flying High Above Ferry  Martha's VineyardMartha's Vineyard  Telegraph Hill on Martha's Vineyard
Seagull above Martha’s Vineyard Ferry, Pond on Martha’s Vineyard;
Main Drag of Traditional Houses, Lighthouse on Telegraph Hill

On the way back from Martha’s Vineyard, we stopped over in Falmouth to catch up with a friend who was on a brief visit back to Boston from her expat life in Madrid!  We swam in the warm water of the bay at the Falmouth Beach, which was the perfect way to cool down after the strong sun of a completely clear day.  I loved hearing about how serendipity had led to her decision to live in Spain semi-permanently.

Birthday Fun

August is also an awesome month because of my birthday.  As my birthday was approaching, I reflected on how 32 was one of the best years of my life.  Interestingly, it is mostly because of the clear, hopeful perspective I’ve developed as a direct result of my time abroad and my commitment to appreciating the present moment.  I haven’t felt so inspired and creative since I was a teenager, and there never seem to be enough hours in the day anymore!

To celebrate my birthday weekend, I tried to squeeze in all of my favorite things.  I reflected on the past year by writing in my journal at the Cambridge Public Library, my home away from home.  Then I started off Friday night by biking to the South End for salsa dancing and Salsa in the Park‘s inspiring Youth Leadership performance, followed by amazing ice cream at Toscanini’s.

Clouds and Flowers in Waltham
Clouds and Flowers in Waltham

On Saturday, I got up early for a group bike ride to Walden Pond.  After some technical difficulties with one of my bike tires, we were on our way all around Cambridge, Watertown, Waltham, and Lincoln.  We stopped for a picnic lunch at the deCordova Sculpture Park, where I checked off a bucket list item and received a serenade from 20 of my new best biking friends.
Posing at deCordova Sculpture Park deCordova Sculpture Park DSC_0197
deCordova Sculpture Park

From there, we moved on to Walden Pond.  I hadn’t been back to Walden Pond since college, and it was pretty awesome to roll in there on bike!  We went for a nice, cooling swim in the water and then wandered around to the site of Thoreau’s cabin.

Walden Pond  Honoring Thoreau at Walden
Posing at Walden Pond
Walden Pond

From there, we hit the road through Concord to Bedford, passing through Lexington and Arlington on the way back to Cambridge on the Minuteman Bike Path.  I haven’t been back on the path since I started my biking adventures around Boston, and I loved zooming down the bike path!  We finished the long day with dinner and drinks at Jose’s Mexican Restaurant, the site of of many a field trip with my former students.

On Sunday, I decided to get back on my bike and complete another bucket list item: riding the entire length of Memorial Drive in Cambridge.  It was nice to see the great views of Boston at a much slower pace.  I headed back through Cambridge for lunch at Life Alive, an interesting visit to the MIT Museum, and more ice cream at Toscanini’s.  Finally, I enjoyed some downtime at my favorite spot in the city, the Sunken Garden.

View from Memorial Drive
Boston from Memorial Drive, Cambridge (and my bike!)

Boston Bucket List

Did you manage to count all of the Boston bucket list items I completed this month?  Well, there were actually more than those I’ve already mentioned!

  • Walden Pond
  • Arlington Public Library
  • Mt. Auburn Cemetery
  • MIT Museum
  • Walk (or bike) along Memorial Drive in Cambridge
  • deCordova Sculpture Park
  • The Brattle Theatre (again, to see Manakamana)
  • Minuteman Bike Trail (again)

While I enjoyed the MIT museum and all of its interesting interactive exhibits, the biggest surprise was the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, famous for being a landscaped burial ground designed to invite visitors to stay and reflect.  I really had no idea what to expect, but people raved about how beautiful it was so I decided to check it out.  I was definitely not the only person going for a casual stroll around this decidedly peaceful place, and I was impressed by all the history contained within its borders.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery
Mt. Auburn Cemetery

That said, the coolest part about my visit was climbing Washington Tower, which gives you a 360 degree panorama of Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding area.  I was surprised to see just how green the area around us still is!

Boston from Washington Tower at Mt. Auburn Cemetery
View from Washington Tower at Mt. Auburn Cemetery


Beyond these major events, each month I’d like to check in on some of the aspects of my daily life that keep life enjoyable and interesting.

Farmer’s Markets

Farmer's Market Bounty
Summer’s Bounty

Each weekend, I look forward to heading to the farmer’s markets around my area.  I love going to the Union Square Farmer’s Market to design my own bouquet of flowers.  These flowers decorate my desk and brighten up my daily routine for the entire week.  I also love this time of year because there are so many things in season: corn, melons, peaches, apples, pears, berries, beans, tomatoes, zucchini and so much more more.


Chia Seed Breakfast Bowl
Chia Bowl with Blueberries, Peaches, and Pecans

After hearing about chia seeds for so long, I got some from the bulk bin and tried out a chia breakfast bowl mixed with almond milk, steel-cut oats, blueberries, peaches, and pecans.  It was surprisingly delicious – and I need the protein after all the biking!


  • As you may know, I’m tutoring English via Skype through my website EnglishwithKim.com.  Slowly but surely I’m building my learning resources blog and getting more students!  I love being able to teach students on my own schedule using my own methods, and I’m confident my business will only continue to grow!
  • I’m also super inspired by all the educational technology and new methods out there.  I’m taking a MOOC on Learning to Teach Online and watching cool YouTube videos on the flipped classroom.

New Blog Design

Last but not least, I updated my blog’s design after many, many years!  Check it out by heading to the main site.

As you can see, it has been a busy but lovely month.  I’m looking forward to celebrating the last days of summer and welcoming fall! 🙂

Boston-Area Bucket List!

Copley Square in Summer
Copley Square in Summer

Before I begin, don’t get too excited: I have no immediate plans to abandon Boston/Cambridge for any wild adventures overseas.  That said, I reserve the right to change my mind at any moment, and that’s why I’ve created my Boston bucket list.

When I was nearing the last few months of my year volunteering in Peru, I wrote a Lima-area bucket list to encourage me to finally finish doing all of the things I had been meaning to experience during that whole year.  Some of them were food-related, like returning to Papacho’s for a delicious veggie burger, while others were more cultural, such as viewing Mario Testino’s photography exhibits, and others involved travel or hiking, like finally visiting Callahuanca, land of chirimoya, which is a small town relatively close to Huaycán, but a world away in terms of its ambiance.  In the end, I only accomplished about half of the things on my list, because I also just loved soaking in daily life in Lima.

The thing I often forget when I’m living in whatever city I call home is that there are lots of places to visit and experience beyond those located around my comfort zones of work and home.  I am content wandering through the same streets of Cambridge and nearby Somerville again and again, visiting my favorite cafes and shops, checking out the flowers in Boston Common, relaxing in the sun in Copley Square (see above!), and watching the sunset over the Charles.

However, when I am feeling my itchy feet pushing me to travel, I have to remember that I can view my own city/region through the eyes of a traveler.  There are so many things in the Boston area that I have yet to experience because Boston has always been a safe port for me, a place I return to after time away.  But I finally realized that one way to keep my adventurous spirit happy is to explore these amazing places and break out of my pleasant, yet predictable routines.  So I created a Boston-area bucket list of sites I have always wanted to see, places I haven’t visited since college, and destinations suggested by local residents on message boards.

In no particular order, this is my Boston-area bucket list:

I’m sure this list will grow, so if you have any suggestions, send them my way! 🙂